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April 16, 2007

Where Are The Heroes?

In much of the cell-phone footage captured, you can clearly hear shots being fired...32 students are assasinated over a period of several hours at point blank range while the police all cower behind buildings, trees, cars...each other. In the end, the gunman commits suicide, wrapping up a day of carnage that will go down as the worst domestic mass murder-suicide rampage in the history of the United States.

Not a single police man is shot, or even injured in the confrontation. How can this be? How can it be that a gunman massacres 32 people in a "gun-free zone", and the police never fire a shot, and never draw any fire?

Remarkably, of all the major school shootings in the U.S. over the last 10 years, I am not aware of a single on-duty law enforcement officer being shot. If someone knows of a case where this occured, please advise me and I will note it.

Part of the reason that the police didn't get shot is that they're cowards. Or, maybe to be politically correct, we'd say they are interested in self-preservation. They have wives and kids and husbands and pets to go home to. They want to wake up tomorrow morning like the rest of us. No one wants to run headlong into gunfire unnecessarily. They're human, and self-preservation is a fundamental instinct.

But what about altruism? Aren't the police supposed to be "brave"? Isn't their mission "To Serve And Protect"? In a "gun-free zone", where citizens are disarmed by law, don't the police have an elevated responsibility to meet force with force?

Part of the problem revolves around a social phenomenon known as "diffused responsibility". If only one policeman was on the scene, it is safe to presume that he may well have acted differently. If one policeman had been on the scene, and if he had been alone, he may well have thought "that guy is in there killing innocent, unarmed students and it's up to me to stop him." He may have charged down the hall and into the classroom following the rampaging student and ended the massacre single-handedly. It would not have been hard. The shooter must have faced a truly chaotic situation shooting into masses of panicked students. It would have been impossible for him to keep his wits about him and alert to the remote threat of second armed person in a "gun-free zone". But that's not what happened.

Instead, the police all massed in the parking lot, loading weapons, donning bullet-proof vests. Basically gearing up. Getting ready for a confrontation that never came. All the while, they could hear the assailant slaughtering students. However, because the other cops are not charging into the building, the police all hold their positions, like frightened quail, waiting to flush. That's "diffused responsibility" in a nutshell.

Had one officer charged into the building, he (or she) could have saved 10, 20, or even 30 lives. They would have been celebrated as a national hero. But instead, they blinked. But they looked around and thought, "Hey...Mike isn't going in...so why should I? I don't want to get killed." Fear is contagious, and it races through the hearts of police like wildfire. And we are left picking up the pieces and wondering "Where are the heroes?".

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 16, 2007 at 7:32 PM


Well, one thing is very clear to me. The VT students could not rely on the police to protect them, and neither can I...neither can any one of us. We must be prepared to protect ourselves.

Posted by: Karl in Chicago on April 17, 2007 at 7:27 AM

One thing that people probably did not hear about Columbine was that the police had to defuse pipe bombs on the stairs in order to get to the library on the second floor.

Some of those pipe bombs were set with mercury switches, which is more sophisticated that two high school students should have had access to.

Also, two police officers were in a shoot-out with the perps at the time, but were reprimanded for not waiting for SWAT to arrive. It was a no-win situation for everyone in the high school.

It was also tough for the National Guard members in the MP Company that had to stand guard that night over the school, because members of the press would not stay off the school property. They also worked bomb disposal with the local police. (Side note: three propane tanks wired to explode in the cafeteria never went off. Imagine if they would have.)

We really need to look to the press first, and why they are reporting the way they are, before we start questioning the police.

Everyone in Law Enforcement is supposed to follow orders. If they don't, and they rush in and take care of the situation, they aren't police officers for much longer...

Posted by: Rob on April 17, 2007 at 9:44 AM

From Columbine Wiki entry:

Meanwhile, a deputy sheriff arrived at the scene and began shooting at Harris and Klebold, distracting them from the injured Brian Anderson. Anderson staggered out of the area and made it into the library where he ran into an open staff break room, remaining there until the ordeal ended. Harris fired ten shots at the officer, who then radioed in a Code 33 (officer in need of emergency assistance). When his gun jammed, Harris ran inside the school with Klebold.

Posted by: Rob on April 17, 2007 at 9:51 AM

More wonderful "facts" from a hater...
The shooting didn't go on for hours. There was a single shooting incident at an apartment. The call came out as a medical, student fell from loft, and when EMS arrived they discovered the 2 occupants had actually been shot. One died, one didn't. This was investigated for what it appeared to be, a single event. No info that it was anything else, and for 2 hours nothing else happened.
The gun man went over to the other side of the campus (the size of a city in land mass and building number) and 2 hrs later walked into a classroom and chained the doors shut, then pulled out guns and started shooting. Police who were in the general area canvasing the campus heard the shots and rushed in their direction. They found the barricaded doors and forced their way in under 1 minute, but the rampage was over. The shooter killed himself as the Police rushed up the stairs inside.
Don't bother listening to me though, as you can see by my name, I died a long time ago...

Posted by: Common sense on April 17, 2007 at 12:21 PM

Since you obviously have an issue with law enforcement, I hope you aren't a hypocrite and don't call 9-1-1 when you are in need of help; afterall, they don't do anything anyways.

Posted by: Katie on April 17, 2007 at 1:25 PM

No, the police are not obligated to protect the individual (Warren V. DC, IIRC). Do they? You bet. The average patrol offier does not have the ability to breach a chained door, nor is the information complete in that kind of chaos.

Your Monday morning quarterbacking of the event is not helpful. I do agree with you about no restrictions of concealed carry on campus (state funded).

Posted by: Oi Vey on April 17, 2007 at 3:39 PM

Uh...not so fast there nay-sayers. I haven't seen anything where the police tried to get in the chained door during the shooting. The video I have seen clearly shows shots ringing out while cops hide behind buildings, cop cars, trees, etc. I have not seen one image of a cop trying to breach the building. You're making that up. As for dialing 911, I don't dial 911. A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone. I don't dial 911. I take care of the problem.

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 17, 2007 at 6:00 PM

Are you serious Mr.Kiser? Just because YOU didn't have the clearest point of view from a CELL phone bit of video are basing your entire rant on that. How could we be making up the report of how the Police had to breach the building? If you believe all the media says they also say that.

Posted by: Armed Campus Security on April 17, 2007 at 9:34 PM

My point is that, if you watch the video, then you see that the cops are hiding while the shots are going off. That is not the correct response. The correct response to shots fired is to charge into the building. Not cower like frightened children. They said they trained for this. So, my thought is, who's in charge of the training? Since when does "shots fired" call for hiding behind trees. Shots fired in a gun-free zone should be a clarion call to charge in immediately and stop the shooter. If this is not how they're trained,then they need to say "you know what? if we hear shots, you're on your own. good luck!"

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 17, 2007 at 11:54 PM

Rob are you a screwdriver, hammer, file, or chisel? Either way you are a tool. The cell phone video has no frame of reference to go with it. As for you comment "charge the building", which building? Have you done ANY research? There are Hundreds of buildings around that campus. In fact, if you watch the cell phone video closely, it appears the shots ring out, Officers take cover and access WHERE the shots are coming from (I guess they could have just charged the closest building, spent time clearing it, if empty of threat, charge the next one, etc, instead of using both common sense and tactical doctrine) then quickly work together and rush toward the sounds (you can hear them yelling commands, possible to students/suspects they encounter on the way).

Posted by: Comnon sense on April 18, 2007 at 4:47 AM

Rob, this time you are just too simple.
The world is not so simple and a sniplet from a cellphone video doesn't tell the full truth.

Posted by: Ron on April 18, 2007 at 11:33 AM

"That is not the correct response. The correct response to shots fired is to charge into the building."

And which police academy did you receive your training from again? What a mighty man you are, taking aim at law enforcement officers from behind a keyboard.

Your line of thinking is absurd and your points absolutely invalid.

Posted by: Just a cop on April 18, 2007 at 5:09 PM

If police work is so easy then strap a gun on. Your comments are idiotic at best. To base a whole entry on a 10 second video clip with no time stamp?!?!?!?!
Next time you need help call a crackhead we have enough citizens that appreciate us to serve

Posted by: Proud Cop on April 18, 2007 at 5:21 PM

Rob K did you go to CVC?

Posted by: k r bach on April 18, 2007 at 5:27 PM

Since you obviously have an issue with law enforcement, I hope you aren't a hypocrite and don't call 9-1-1 when you are in need of help; afterall, they don't do anything anyways.


Next time you need help call a crackhead

The "if you don't like cops, don't call when you need one" argument is one of those debating points that sounds very profound ... to a 16 year old.

Where is it written that if somebody does not like, does not respect, has issues with, or is critical of law enforcement that he forfeits the right to use a government service that he pays for?

The critic gains nothing in return, and no cost is incurred by the police.

A more rationale trade-off would be "I will give up my right to use law enforcement services if law enforcement gives up its authority over me."

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out the implications of that happening.

Posted by: some anonymous libertarian on April 18, 2007 at 5:53 PM

The cops not entering the building was caused by a physical phenomenon known as a door chained shut by the gunman. But I guess that was all a big conspiracy since nobody captured that on their cell phone. So, tough guy -- Rob Kiser, why don't you give out your phone number so that I can add it to speed dial, and call you if I need a hero to rescue me? Or are you afraid of coming out from behind the keyboard?

Posted by: Pedro on April 18, 2007 at 6:26 PM

why don't you give out your phone number so that I can add it to speed dial, and call you if I need a hero to rescue me? Or are you afraid of coming out from behind the keyboard?

Unlike Rob Kiser, the police are:

(1) paid to respond to emergency calls

(2) given extra-legal authority and privileges to carry out their duties

What are you offering him?

Posted by: some anonymous libertarian on April 18, 2007 at 7:16 PM

So,obviously a lot of people want to support law enforcement. That's probably a healthy, legitimate gut-reaction. My point is this. Cops are a centralized solution to a distributed problem. And, when they do manage to make it to the scene, they do not respond appropriately. The right thing to do is charge the building. If you think they didn't know which building the shots were coming from, then you are mistaken. I guarantee you they knew which building the shooter was in as the shots rang out. The problem is that they never rushed the shooter. That is the only thing to do when a shooter is murdering students in cold blood. That's the correct response and they didn't do it. I'm sure that many people want to "back the blue", and there's a certain amount of validity to that as a knee-jerk, gut-instinct, but naive, initial response. The more sane, logical approach is to ask the hard questions 1)what did the police do wrong 2) what did they do right and 3) what can we do to prevent this from occurring again. If you still suppose that the police did nothing wrong, then you must also believe that this massacre was unavoidable, and, as a logical extension, repeatable. How sad for you and the students that will be murdered next time. Back the blue. ;)

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 18, 2007 at 7:59 PM

Everyone's a badass on the Internet, Robbie, and everyone's an expert come Monday morning.

Posted by: smcc360 on April 18, 2007 at 9:43 PM

Uh...yeah. But, see, the problem with that theory is that this isn't some new idea that I came up with Monday morning. Actually, this is something that I've promoted for years. The police can't get there in time. You have to defend yourself. No one else can do it for you. Self defense isn't something you can outsource. All the police can do is clean up the blood. Look at any mass shooting in the U.S. and you'll see this is a continuous, repeating tragedy, and will continue to be for the forseeable future, so long as idiots like you continue to shoot down people with sound, logical, arguments as "monday morning quarterbacks".

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 19, 2007 at 2:37 AM

Kiser- if your intent in your post is to argue for gun rights, you're right on the money with the thought that you and you alone are responsible for your own safety.

As to some of your comments, the police aren't require to provide a higher level of protection in a "gun free" zone. Sorry, not true. If you have an issue with that, take it up with the politicians that pandered to the anti-gun lobby and enacted those laws.

As to the LEOs "cowering" behind trees, and you basing that on that short cell phone video, did you bother to watch the other officers attempting to gain entry thru the chained doors. Did you watch the other officers running to the people out in the open and getting them to safety?

No, of course you didn't! Instead, you base your entire blurb on a short segment of a video that shows a very narrow view of a large building. Shame on you. If that's your way of showing us you have common sense and can engage in critical thinking, maybe you shouldn't have a gun. I don't fear an armed population, but I sure do fear idiots with guns. I'll leave it to you to guess which group I include you in.

Posted by: anothercop on April 19, 2007 at 3:48 AM

I'm not afraid of cops, nor am I intimidated by them. So, nice try. As for the elevated responsibility in a "gun-free zone", it was a rhetorical question. My point is that, if it is a "gun-free zone", then shouldn't the police be held to a higher standard? Isn't this a situation where they should respond differently? If the answer is "no", then maybe we should put signs up around the "gun-free zones" to say "Warning: Enter at your own risk. You are disarmed and the police will not save you."

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 19, 2007 at 4:03 AM

You're letting your (justified, in my opinion) frustration with silly gun control legislation push you into making ill-informed and foolish statements on a topic you clearly don't know much about.

Because if 'one cop charging down the hallway' to take out an active shooter who 'won't be able to keep his wits about him' is what you consider a 'sound, logical argument', then stick to blogging about your Ipod and posting pictures of girls on snowmobiles.

You make good points about people needing to take responsibility for their own safety, but this Internet Commando routine makes you look like a dope.

Posted by: smcc360 on April 19, 2007 at 6:38 AM

No, it makes you look like a pacifist tree-hugger that isn't interested in preventing this recurring problem from repeating itself. Which it will. Mark my words. As long as there are "gun-free zones", there will be mass-shootings. And as long as police run for cover as shots ring out, students will continue to be eradicated. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: Rob Kiser on April 20, 2007 at 8:02 PM

"If police work is so easy then strap a gun on. Your comments are idiotic at best. To base a whole entry on a 10 second video clip with no time stamp?!?!?!?!
Next time you need help call a crackhead we have enough citizens that appreciate us to serve
Posted by: Proud Cop on April 18, 2007 05:21 PM"

Maybe you're one of the rare police who isn't a coward. The 10 second video clips tell part of the story. Rob Kiser got it right, as evidenced by the words of one of the cowering cops whose excuse was that he couldn't find his body armor so he hid behind his car (taken from Newsweek artice), "Virginia State Police Sgt. Matthew Brannock, 31, had taken cover behind his car. He had felt vulnerable without his bulletproof vest and ran up into a breezeway that connects the two sides of the H-shaped Norris Hall. When the shooting stopped, he ran in. "The amount of blood in the hallway—" Brannock later recalled, groping for words. "There were bodies all over. It was just overwhelming. I had never been in a war environment, but I thought, this must be what it's like. Disaster and chaos. People screaming and crying, sobbing out in panic."

Here is a quote on the VT response delays from an LA-based SWAT trainer, “You don’t have time to wait,? said Aaron Cohen, president of IMS Security of Los Angeles, who has trained SWAT teams around the country since 2003. “You don’t have time to pre-plan a response. Even if you have a few guys, you go.?

If you cops don't realize that since you carry guns and routinely deal with potentially dangerous situations, you're expected to show more courage than the average citizen. Don't worry, I don't call 911, I learned my lesson. I don't need to. Not to brag or anything, but the thugs in my city know about me, they don't do crime on my block, they're not sure which house I live in. Lest another one bite the dust.
Fuck you cop. You'll commit suicide someday, a future PTSD-whining faggot with a gun in his mouth, just like Virginia State Police Sgt. Matthew Brannock.

Posted by: John Parker on April 30, 2007 at 4:15 AM

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